Scientists turn red tide into ready-to-use fertilizer in southwest Florida

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FORT MYERS, Fla .– Scientists at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) are turning red tide-killed fish into ready-to-use organic fertilizer.

Mike Parsons, professor of marine science, FGCU said scientists at Fox 4 were looking to answer two questions from their recent study.

“Number one, if you take out the dead fish, how would that affect the red tide, then part two would be, what do you do with the dead fish.” So we looked at composting it into fertilizer, ”Parsons said.

Parsons says their scientists discovered that natural bacteria during the composting process flush out all the harmful toxins from the red tide.

It’s a discovery that could also reduce the amount of pollution that drains into Southwest Florida’s waterways and canals.

“These fish come from the ocean, they get all of their nutrition and all their nutrients from the ocean, so if we turn them into fertilizer, apply them to the land, the crops and if they go back to the ocean. .where it’s coming from. So it’s a neutral and nutritious situation, ”Parsons said.

It might save a few bucks along the way.

Parsons says that during peak red tide times, when the concentration is high enough to kill fish (100,000 cells per liter of water), it cost Lee and Collier counties a combined $ 14 million. dollars per month.

A bill that Parsons said could be reduced through collection and composting.

“And the clean-up numbers we got ranged from about $ 2,000 to $ 6,000 per tonne of fish. So it’s just a matter of whether these are our bookends, then we can sort of develop an action plan to remove these fish, ”he said.

Scientists on Friday said the next step would be to connect with state and local organizations to turn their efforts from a study into real solutions.

“I think there would be opportunities for coordination and certainly composting and marketing of the fertilizers themselves. so yes there are a lot of opportunities here and it would be good for us locally to help diversify our economy, ”said Parsons.


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